Ryan Smith: Utah Is A ‘Top-Ten Market’ In The NBA

SALT LAKE CITY – Jazz owner Ryan Smith said he believes Utah is a top-ten market in the NBA.

The tech mogul joined DJ and PK on the KSL Sports Zone on Tuesday morning to discuss the state of the Jazz, including the rapidly evolving landscape in Utah.

You can listen to the full interview in the player below.

Smith Says Jazz Exist In Top-Ten Market

While Utah has long been considered one of the smallest markets among the NBA’s 30 franchises, Smith pushed back on some of the traditional measurements.

“We’re really not a small market,” Smith said. “If you look at the growth of Utah, I think we’re a top ten market in the league when it comes to what we can support.”

Utah is the fourth-fastest growing state according to a recent study and routinely posts better than average employment numbers.

“Look at our fanbase, season ticket renewals, economic environment, where we’re at [with] unemployment, growth, the colleges, and universities,” Smith argued.

The Jazz were one of seven teams last season to have their arena filled to 100 percent capacity, a mark that has remained unchanged since the 2018-19 season.

Another overlooked, but important factor is the Salt Lake International Airport.

“Simon [Fontecchio] can jump on a plane, or Rudy Gobert would be able to just fly direct to France,” Smith noted. “Most small markets don’t have a whole lot of that.”

Does Market Prevent Utah From Landing NBA Stars?

The importance of market size is often attributed to whether or not the league’s top free agents are willing to sign in Utah.

Traditionally, that hasn’t been the case with the receptions of Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur, and Bojan Bogdanovic.

However, Smith argued that market size and free agent success may be more of a myth that he narrative would suggest.

‘There’s only maybe four markets that have been able to successfully build more than once through free agency,’ Smith told the DJ and PK.

The Los Angeles Lakers won titles after signing Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James. The Miami Heat also won a title after securing James as a free agent. But, Smith is correct that most teams win champions by drafting elite talent, or making blockbuster trades for players.

The Jazz owner said he believes the league is continuing to move further away from building through free agency.

“A lot of teams have just basically become draft teams and trade teams, and that’s a trend that you see,” Smith said. “You don’t rule out free agency, it’s just a little bit harder as you look at the free agent class next year and say, ‘How many top 20 or top 40 players are coming up?’ There’s just very few.”

With that in mind, Smith hasn’t given up on the idea of ​​selling NBA players on the state of Utah, and plans to capitalize on that in February.

“I’m still strongly of the belief that we’ve got just such an amazing opportunity with Utah to go show what we’re about,” Smith said. “The All-Star Game is going to be a great opportunity to do that.”

Catch DJ and PK Monday through Friday from 6-10 AM on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone.

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